When preparing a child for school, it is crucial to begin developing a love of learning in the early stages. Parents have an important role in a child’s success in school and there are four keys that involve both action and assessment that will help the child develop this quality before attending first grade.
1. Action: Give the Child the Right Start
Parents are responsible for the multifaceted action of facilitating a love of learning in the early years. Such action items include:
- Actively teaching the child to listen by engaging in fun activities that involve following instructions.
- Involving the child in social activities with other children in his or her age level.
- Beginning the early stages of handwriting and art skills by allowing the child to manipulate small items like play dough and crayons.
- And, teaching a child to listen to their inner thinking voice by asking interactive questions.
2. Assessment: Is the Child, and now Student, in the “Sweet Spot?”
The “sweet spot” is a term coined by Bunny Hill, assistant Headmaster of Wichita Collegiate School. According to Hill, it is “that place between what they already know and what they don’t know yet that keeps them engaged and ready to learn.”
In order to assess if a child is in the sweet spot, the parent can observe the child’s thoughts about beginning new learning activities. Are they excited? Do they enjoy telling their parents and friends about what they are learning in school or at home? Excitement is ultimately the best metric for whether a child is or is not in the sweet spot. If children are not excited, they may either be feeling left behind in the process and need less challenging material, or they may be feeling bored or complacent because the material they are learning is not challenging enough.
3. Assessment: The Bounce and The Beam
Another assessment guide for parents is measured before and after the student is in class for the first few weeks of school. The bounce is measured when the child is leaving the car to go school. Essentially, does the child bounce out of the car, ready to learn? And, when the child returns to the car, are they beaming with joy and excitement? It may seem trivial, but children who are less enthusiastic about going to school and returning home happy from school often have very little enthusiasm for learning.
4. Action: Teach the Value of Rigor and Hard Work
Many parents find it very difficult to teach their children to love to work hard, but this is an essential quality for learning. A parent can help her child to build the stamina needed for completing longer assignments when the child is at an early age by beginning challenging activities that have a beginning, an end, and a reward at the end. Each activity will need to be adjusted to the child’s appropriate age and ability, but encouraging the child to complete the activity, and rewarding him for hard work and rigor will carry over to school activities later, when he is a student. Too often, a student enters his first day of school having never been taught to finish what he starts, to work hard for accomplishments, or to complete anything independently. When the new student cannot do these simple tasks, he is likely to become discouraged and the love of learning will weaken.
For more information about facilitating a love of learning in your student or child, feel free to email Bunny Hill at Wichita Collegiate School: firstname.lastname@example.org. Along with the article, is an excellent video of Hill summarizing her tips. Check it out!
For more information about Wichita Collegiate School, visit http://wcsks.com.
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